Survey Shows Parents Have Big Expectations for The Family Car

Size Matters as Cars Become the New Family Room

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., September 20, 2016 – Findings from a parent survey conducted by CarGurus (, a leading car research and shopping site, suggest a bigger car could be the key to happier family driving experiences. The survey found that moms and dads shuttling multiple children around in sedans are less satisfied with their cars than those driving larger capacity minivans and SUVs. 21% of sedan owners said their car does not meet their family’s needs, while only 7% of both minivan and SUV owners reported dissatisfaction with their cars. Of all the respondents reporting that their current primary car does not meet their families’ driving needs, 62% said it’s because their car is too small.

It’s no wonder vehicle size and cargo space matters so much to today’s busy families: they are logging a lot of time on the road and doing a lot of ‘living’ in their cars. The majority (56%) of parents with middle-school-aged kids report they are driving their kids to and from school or extra-curricular activities at least 5 days per week. One-in-three middle school parents report spending 4 hours or more per week driving their kids around. Cumulatively, that’s more than 8 days of driving per year, or the equivalent of two round trips from Boston to San Diego.

The good news for families is all those hours logged on the road presents an opportunity for parents to talk with their kids. Almost half of parents surveyed (45%) said they are most likely to have a conversation with their children about their day while driving in the car as opposed to the dinner table or at their child’s bedtime. In addition to conversation, there’s a lot more ‘family room’ activity going in the car, too. The survey found that most parents allow their children to eat in the car (78%), read in the car (73%), use mobile devices to play games or watch media online (70%) and choose the music for the ride (60%).

When families with multiple children were asked which feature would be of primary importance when considering purchasing a family car today, price, safety, cargo capacity and fuel economy ranked the highest out of 12 features. Family-friendly features such entertainment technology and video screens, and convenience features such as an automatic tailgate lift were of least importance to most parents. Resale value was also not a high priority for families with multiple children. This feedback helped inform CarGurus’ choices for Best Family Cars for 2016, which can be found here:

“Parents weigh many important factors when they consider their family car, but it seems that bigger capacity is one of the best indicators for overall satisfaction, especially as kids grow up,” said Matt Smith, Editor at CarGurus. “The benefits of more space and improved comfort and convenience features are huge for families, and manufacturers are delivering on these bigger expectations at many budgets and with improved fuel efficiency. Sustained low gas prices also make the super-sized ride a lot more palatable for families.”


The CarGurus Family Driving survey gathered online responses from 1400 parents with children 18 or younger on their family driving behaviors and vehicle needs. To read full results, click here:

About CarGurus

Founded in 2007 by Langley Steinert, co-founder of TripAdvisor, CarGurus ( is a leading online automotive shopping destination focused on bringing transparency and efficiency to the car research and shopping experience. The site uses technology and market data analysis to help millions of automotive shoppers search for cars and quickly identify the best deals from top-rated dealers in their local area. Today, the site serves more than 20 million unique monthly users and more than 15,000 car dealerships, and ranks #1 among car shopping websites in the U.S. by daily unique visitor traffic. CarGurus also has sites in the UK and Canada.

Brian Kramer